Divided World, Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism is the first full-length title in over a decade to feature a Third Worldist analysis of modern political economy. It was published in September 2012 by the independent publisher Kersplebledeb and has already been reviewed by several leftist writers, including Matthijus Krul, J. Moufawad-Paul, and Charlie Post.

MIMPrisons describes this book as a “must-read.” This is no understatement. Along with books like J. Sakai’s Settlers, The Mythology of the White Proletariat and essays such as Lin Piao’s Long Live the Victory of People’s War!Divided World, Divided Class should be required reading for all revolutionary anti-imperialist organizers in occupied North America.

Divided World offers a materialist account of the development of the ‘labour aristocracy.’ More importantly, it sets out and succeeds in empirically demonstrating both the depth of imperialist parasitism and the extend to which populations of imperialist centers have been converted into net-exploiters.

If this sounds like a mouthful, it is. Divided World may not be a suitable introduction to Third Worldism for those not already familiar with Marxist methodological approaches. Nonetheless, its rigorous detail and firm argumentation make it appropriate and necessary study-material for those dedicated to the struggle against capitalist-imperialism.

Because Divided World is so rigorous and convincing, it has already spurred wider numbers of people to engage in Third Worldist thought. As with even the best single theoretical work, Divided World leaves some questions unanswered while creating many new ones.

One of the questions frequently provoked by a Third Worldist critique of political economy is, ‘what can people in the First World do to contribute to world revolution?’

It is highly understandable why Divided World does not venture to answer this question. One could spend a lifetime ‘struggling against imperialism.’ However, unless there exists a willingness to allow theory to inform practice, such efforts may amount to nothing (or worse, serving the opposite end one hopes to accomplish).

Stalin’s 1924 book, Foundations of Leninism, outlines the connect between revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice:

“Theory is the experience of the working-class movement in all countries taken in its general aspect. Of course, theory becomes purposeless if it is not connected with revolutionary practice, just as practice gropes in the dark if its path is not illumined by revolutionary theory.”

Stalin quotes Lenin by stating, “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”

In our current context, Lenin’s notion of the significance of theory demands full reiteration:

“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This idea cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity.”

The correct answer to the question, ‘what can done for revolution by First Worlders,’ demands some requisite understanding of the system at large. The belief that a solid analysis of modern classes is unimportant is anti-Marxist and opportunist.

Another reason why Divided World might not tackle practical questions is because there may be many practical answers. That is to say, given a Third Worldist analysis of modern political economy, there may exist more than one single set of agreed upon practical implications for radicals in the First World. Nonetheless, examples of practical focuses can be found in the work of existing Third Worldist organizations.

The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement, for example, has taken head-on the question of revolutionary practice in the First World. This is stated unequivocally in its 12 Point Program:

“We want class traitors. We want individual members of exploiter classes to side with the world’s exploited masses. We want class suicide: abandoning the comforts of the petty-bourgeois path laid before us, instead enthusiastically trekking down the arduous road of struggle alongside the proletariat. We want people who are willing to eschew norms to organize and work for revolution; who forsake their own class for a better future for humanity at large.”

RAIM is one of the few organizations which consciously agitates and organizes members of the First World petty-bourgeoisie to the cause of proletarian revolution.

Does this mean RAIM organizes among doctors, lawyers, small business owners, and other members of the classically-defined ‘petty-bourgeoisie?’ No. It means RAIM is conscious of the level of imperialist parasitism and its effect on proletarian revolution, and that its political work is unabashedly internationalist and free from economism.

How is this internationalism expressed? Two ways. First, through support for people’s wars, the broad united front against imperialism, and the promotion of ‘revolutionary defeatism’ (i.e., promoting the ruin of one’s ‘own’ imperialist bourgeoisie). Second, by support for national liberation of oppressed nations within the First World:

“We want the dismemberment of imperialist countries through national liberation and self-determination of oppressed nations. We support efforts by oppressed nations to exert sovereignty against imperialist oppressor nations.”

Practically speaking, RAIM supports these two broad concepts: revolutionary defeat of the imperialist bourgeoisie and their hangers-on through a broad united front against imperialism, and the development of conscious struggles for national liberation of oppressed nations within imperialist borders. These tasks are intimately related. In the context of organizing in the First World settler-imperialist countries, promoting struggles for the national liberation of oppressed nations within one’s ‘own’ imperialist border correlates to promoting internationalism. A global socialist revolution will not leave imperialist borders intact nor existing political regimes standing. Peoples of oppressed nations, politically awakened through the struggles for national liberation, in concert and connection with the revolutionary masses of the world, are the natural ascendant forces within the context of global new democratic and socialist revolutions.

As is noted in RAIM’s 12 Point Program, these struggles will not develop spontaneously:

“We want revolutionary organizations. Revolutionary forces must not remain scattered in their aims and activities. Rather, it is necessary to mobilize the proletariat and its allies within organizations with strategies to overthrow reactionaries and seize power.”

At this nascent period of the redevelopment of a revolutionary line within communist movements, it assumes too much to believe every conceivable strategic route could be taken by single Third Worldist organizations. Instead, the global Third Worldist movement as a whole contains numerous different developing strategic and practical orientations

RAIM’s primary task is to aid in the international development and growth of independent opposition to First Worldism. In this regard, RAIM takes a fairly non-sectarian approach of supporting the Third Worldist movement as a whole. However, a few other things set RAIM apart within the Third Worldist movement.

First, RAIM supports the development of independent struggles for national liberation of oppressed nations. RAIM, as an inclusive cadre organization, aims to support, unify, and strengthen the development of various national liberation struggles against imperialist states. Second, RAIM works in imperialist centers to organize public opinion which serves wider proletarian struggles. For reasons of effectiveness and security, much of our work is not carried out under the public banner of Third Worldist organizing. It is however aimed up undercutting bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologies which inhibit the development of revolutionary struggles.

RAIM understands that the greatest efforts toward organizing for revolution in the First World will be wasted outside of a larger structural crisis. Instead of organizing for the direct seizure of power by the proletariat (as is the case for many revolutionary organizations in peripheral countries), much of RAIM’s practical work aims to inhibit imperialist reaction over the long term. It is a pipe-dream to believe that a revolution will happen tomorrow. It is even more idealist to believe the center of world revolution is in the very places which materially benefit from the imperialist system which is being overthrown. However, work within imperialist centers which hinders concerted aggression against world-wide revolutionary forces can pay off over the long term. Successfully ending US military aid to states such as Israel, India, and the Philippines would do much more to serve worldwide revolutionary struggles than failing to organize a First World ‘socialist’ revolution.

Third Worldism is a radical break with hegemonic First Worldism. In splitting from many of the dominant First Worldist narratives of normative Marxism, it demands a similar split with many ‘practical’ dogmas. While such dogmatic First Worldist posturing has never produced (primarily due to structural reasons) a revolution in the First World, it is up the Third Worldists to creatively apply revolutionary theory within modern conditions toward the cause of worldwide revolutionary struggles.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] Mini-Review and Commentary on Zak Cope’s Divided World, Divided Class by Nikolai Brown (Anti-Imperialism.com): A celebratory review from one of the most significant “Maoist Third […]

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